Ordinary words

DPP v Acme Storage Pty Ltd [2017] VSCA 90

An issue in this case was the meaning of ‘detriment’ in an anti-discrimination provision – ordinary or technical legal meaning?  The court (at [65-83]) reviewed cases on how ordinary words are to be approached.  Absent contrary indicators, ordinary words in a statute take their ordinary meaning according to ‘logic and common sense’5

It was held that, ‘when understood in context’6 ‘detriment’ did not have a ‘special, and different, legal meaning, at odds with its ordinary and natural meaning’.  Had parliament wanted something different, it could have legislated for it.  iTip – ordinary words usually take their ordinary meaning.   

This case is from Episode 26 of interpretationNOW!


R v AL (a pseudonym) [2016] VSCA 156 (at [11]).

As an element of an indictable offence.